5 Android Superphones Aimed at Apple

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Apple's iPhone 4 is very much the phone of the moment as it gets set to launch at Verizon next month, but there are at least five arguably better phones coming that aim to dethrone the king.

This spring, or sooner, Motorola, Samsung, HTC and LG have promised to deliver five large, yet thin, 4G Google Android devices that we'll call superphones.

Each phone seems to have adopted the 4-inch or larger touchscreen size. Apple's iPhone, by comparison is 3.5 inches. And while three of the phones have a 1-gigahertz processor, the LG Infuse goes a couple ticks faster with a 1.2-gigahertz chip. Motorola is the first of the bunch to use a dual-core processor from Nvidia.

At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this month, Motorola was a standout, unveiling four new devices including the iPad tablet challenger, the Xoom. Motorola's most eye-catching superphones were the Atrix and the Bionic, previously known as Olympus and Edna.

Sanjay Jha, CEO of the newly independent wireless titan, appears to have taken the Verizon iPhone challenge quite seriously. Motorola is making what has been expected to be a major displacement at Verizon into a compelling 4G alternative to the iPhone.

Some analysts are impressed with Motorola's hustle.

"Motorola's return to the cutting-edge of handset hardware positions it well in 2011," says MKM Partners analyst Tero Kuittinen. "Apple's decision to leave dual-core and LTE technologies out of the Verizon iPhone shows a degree of complacency that should benefit Motorola."

Here's a look at the top five Android superphones set to battle with the iPhone. LG Revolution, Verizon

LG's focus on feature phones made it a weak player in the smartphone game, but the Korean electronics giant now wants to make up for lost ground in the superphone category.

The LG Revolution is the heaviest of the five Androids, weighing 6 ounces. But it carries the weight well in a sleek half-inch-thick form with a large 4.3-inch display screen.

The phone runs on Qualcomm's Snapdragon 1-gigahertz processor and has a whopping 16 gigabytes of storage. It has two cameras, one front-facing for video chats and the rear a less-than-robust 5-megapixel shooter.

The Revolution is a 4G LTE phone that is expected to start selling at Verizon in the first quarter. Samsung Infuse, AT&T

Samsung seems to be trying extra hard to be the iPhone replacement for AT&T as Verizon finally gets its hands on the Apple phone. By appearances, the Samsung Infuse looks very much like a large version of the iPhone 4, at least from the front.

Samsung had reasonable success with Android phones in its Galaxy series and with the Infuse, it hopes to take that one more step higher. The phone has a massive 4.5-inch super-AMOLED-plus screen that is designed to provide even better resolution and easier daylight viewing.

The Infuse runs on a speedy 1.2-gigahertz Hummingbird single-core processor. Its front-facing camera is a wimpy 1.3-megapixels, but the rear camera captures 8-megapixels. The Infuse runs on the HSDPA wireless technology that AT&T has recently started calling 4G.

The Infuse, sort of like the 5-inch Dell Streak, attempts to push the limits of superphone sizes in an effort to skirt the fringes of the larger tablet market.

AT&T has said it expects to start selling the Infuse in the second quarter. HTC Thunderbolt, Verizon

We got a brief look at the HTC Thunderbolt during CES in Las Vegas. It had the best name of the 10 4G devices that Verizon introduced at its show. Judging from what we saw, the Thunderbolt looks very much like HTC's popular EVO at Sprint, with the same convex back and kickstand.

The Thunderbolt runs on Qualcomm's 1-gigahertz Snapdragon processor, it has a 4.3-inch screen and a front-facing camera as well as an 8-megapixel rear camera. All those specs, by the way, are identical to its 4G WiMax brother, the EVO at Sprint.

The difference with the Thunderbolt is that it runs on Verizon's 4G LTE network. The Thunderbolt is expected to arrive in the first quarter and is being hailed as the first Verizon 4G LTE phone. The EVO arrived at Sprint in March last year, so maybe there's a pattern developing. Motorola Bionic, Verizon

The Droid campaign continues at Verizon, and Motorola has made quite a powerful dual-core, 4G machine to keep that robotic theme churning for another year.

The Bionic will be one of the first dual-core processor phone in the U.S. Other makers, like LG, introduced an Optimus phone at Nvidia's show in Las Vegas, but the U.S. release date still isn't known.

The reason we care about dual-core is that it promises to deliver more computing speed without draining batteries twice as fast. Nvidia has been promising dual-core mobile chips for three years and -- finally -- it has some phones using the processors.

Like its superphone Android peers, the Bionic has two cameras, but the video chat front-facing camera is a weak VGA quality, while the rear is a solid 8-megapixel. And as for flash memory capacity, the Bionic has 512 megabits of RAM and 16 gigabits of storage.

Verizon says it expects to launch the Bionic sometime before the end of the second quarter. Motorola Atrix, AT&T

If there was one phone that caught the most attention at CES, it was the Motorola Atrix.

This Atrix also uses a dual-core Nvidia processor like its sister phone the Bionic, and it has similar specs except that it has 1G of RAM, the same as small laptops. And curiously, that's how Motorola is pitching this device, as a pocket computer.

During the Motorola demonstration, the Atrix was docked in an empty laptop shell, which, powered by a keyboard and big screen, made the Atrix the core of a notebook computer. The Atrix is designed to serve as both your superphone and through a docking system, your PC.

With processing power and memory comparable to a netbook, the Atrix may help push Motorola devices further into the workplace, bumping up against Research In Motion and Hewlett-Packard's Palm business.

AT&T and Motorola are expected to launch the Atrix in the first quarter.

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